It is no secret that Fran Tarkenton is one of the best players to ever come out of UGA. It is also no secret that Tarkenton is one of his alma mater’s biggest — and most honest — critics.
Recently, Tarkenton directed that criticism towards former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
“I think [Jeremy Pruitt] has come over and been very boisterous, been very loud,” Tarkenton said in November, according to CBSSports.com. “I think he’s taken advantage of things over there. He personally has hired four of the assistant coaches over there including the weight guy. I’m not a great fan of Jeremy Pruitt. That has not been a good, workable solution.”
Since then, Georgia coach Mark Richt was fired, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was hired as his replacement and Pruitt assumed Smart’s old post with the Crimson Tide. Tarkenton has been pleased with each step of that process.
“I think that was the right deal,” Tarkenton told SEC Country on Thursday. “Jeremy Pruitt, I think he’s a very good coach — I don’t know him — but Nick Saban wouldn’t have hired him if he wasn’t a good coach. But I think what we had was the making of a disruptive culture. And if you have a football program, it has to be a culture of respect and love and togetherness and everybody pulling together. I don’t think that was what we had the last couple years.”
Tarkenton believes the former Bulldog assistant will thrive under Smart’s mentor, Saban, but he added that Smart will also have a higher ceiling at Georgia.
“I think Jeremy Pruitt will do very well with Nick Saban,” Tarkenton said. “But Nick Saban’s not worried about Jeremy Pruitt questioning who he is. He’s not worried about that.”
A first-year head coach like Smart might be, however, and it is imperative that the coaching staff Smart builds around himself be loyal and cooperative, Tarkenton said.
“I think it had to be his staff,” Tarkenton said. “And I think, I havn’t talked to Kirby Smart about this, but I wouldn’t think he had any notion of hiring Jeremy Pruitt. I think his time was over and everybody wishes him well and he’ll be fine at Alabama.”